Facebook engineers Bryan O’Sullivan, Julien Verlaguet, and Alok Menghrajani spent the last few years building a programming language unlike any other.
Working alongside a handful of others inside the social networking giant, they fashioned a language that lets programmers build complex websites and other software at great speed while still ensuring that their software code is precisely organized and relatively free of flaws — a combination that few of today’s languages even approach. In typical Facebook fashion, the new language is called Hack, and it already drives almost all of the company’s website — a site that serves more than 1.2 billion people across the globe.
“We can say with complete assurance that this has been as battle tested as it can possibly be,” says O’Sullivan, a veteran of iconic tech companies Sun Microsystems and Linden Lab who has long played an important role in a popular language called Haskell.
O’Sullivan and company publicly revealed their new language this morning, and at the same time, they “open sourced” it, sharing the technology with the world at large and encouraging others not only to use it, but to help improve it.
The software world is littered with programming languages, and new ones appear all the time. But according to some who have used it or who know the past work of those who built it, Hack has a design and a pedigree that immediately set it apart. “If Bryan O’Sullivan built it,” says programming guru David Pollak, who only yesterday heard about the new language, “I would walk across hot coals to use it.”